Teen's family files wrongful death suit: Joseph Meram fell to his death at Cedar Creek Falls

Meram hiking with family when he slipped and fell

SAN DIEGO - The family of 16-year-old Joseph Meram has filed a wrongful death suit after the teenager fell to his death last summer at Cedar Creek Falls in Ramona.

"He fell 80 feet," said Charles LiMandri, the attorney for the Meram family. "He hit his head twice on the way down."

Meram's parents were still too distraught to go on camera, but LiMandri wanted to talk about how it happened.

"The coroner made it clear there was no alcohol or drugs involved," he said. "He wasn't trying to jump. He was fully clothed and he had his wallet and his cellphone on him. His cousin turned around and he was gone. He just slipped."

Meram was hiking with four visiting cousins and his younger sister when he slipped and fell.

Two days earlier, eight people were airlifted out of the same area.  LiMandri says the National Park Service was trying to get it shut down.

"Everybody said, 'Close this thing now before someone else gets hurt,'" said LiMandri. "That was the day he died."

LiMandri admits hikers need to bear some responsibility.

"Absolutely… people do have to accept responsibility, but he was on a trail that he thought was safe," LiMandri told 10News.

The Merams' suit wants the U.S. Forest Service to offer better signage for trails and a permitting system to limit the number of visitors.

"Their primary motivation is to make sure that no one else has to go through this," LiMandri said.

A federal magistrate judge will decide by Dec. 31 if the case will move forward.


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